News of European climbers fleeing an angry mob of Sherpas on Mt. Everest shocked the world in 2013, when an “ugly brawl” broke out at 21,000 feet above sea level. It was quite a different scene from the time when New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay reached the summit together in 1952.
In the new documentary “Sherpa,” the filmmakers set out to tell the story of the 2014 Everest climbing season from the point of view of the Sherpas. Instead, they captured one of the worst tragedies ever to befall Mt. Everest, when a 14-million-ton block of ice crashed down onto the climbing route through the Khumbu Icefall, killing 16 Sherpas.
The disaster ended up causing a “drastic reappraisal” of the role of Sherpas in the Everest climbing industry. The film, which will be screening for free at Star Hall on Thursday, May 19, at 7 p.m., shows how the native mountain guides, united in “grief and anger,” set out to reclaim the mountain.
“Though there are many films and stories about Everest, few give us the perspective of the ethnic Sherpas, who make ascents of the mountain they call Chomolungma possible,” Utah Film Center Artistic Director Patrick Hubley said. “This visually stunning film illuminates the motivation behind the (Sherpas’) support of Western climbers and the tension that exists between the two groups.”
Directed by Jennifer Peedom, “Sherpa” premiered at the 2015 Sydney Film Festival as the only documentary selected for the official competition. The film won Best Film on mountain culture at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in 2015. “Sherpa” also won best documentary at the 2015 British Film Institute London Film Festival; and was the official selection at both the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, and Telluride Film Festival.
“The library felt like ‘Sherpa’ would be an excellent fit for Moab, as it is home to communities of climbers and adventure seekers and people who are interested in global social issues,” Grand County Public Library Assistant Jessie Magleby said. “’Sherpa’ provides a rare look into the lives of an often-exploited people. The Sherpa people make mountain adventures possible and bear a significant amount of the burdens and risks associated with climbing in the Himalayas.
“The film takes a tragic turn, but this movie will help bring much-needed attention to the physical danger, greed and commercialism that threaten the Sherpas’ livelihoods,” she said
The Grand County Public Library began partnering with the Salt Lake City-based film center in 2011, to bring thoughtful, independent films to Moab. The movies are chosen from a list of patrons’ suggestions, as well as recommendations from the film center. The films are always free and held at Star Hall.
The Utah Film Center also offers free community screenings, discussions, outreach programs and visiting artists and professionals. Its mission is to present a diversity of ideas, and provide forums for underrepresented groups, and to develop new audiences for film.
The film center continues to recover from a March 29 fire that destroyed its Salt Lake City office. Donations are being accepted at: gofundme.com/utahfilmcenter.
Documentary about Everest guides comes to Star Hall on May 19
What: The Utah Film Center and the Grand County Public Library present “Sherpa”
When: Thursday, May 19, at 7 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
Information: www.utahfilmcenter.org or 435-259-1111
Star Hall is located at 159 E. Center St. For more information, go to www.utahfilmcenter.org, or call 435-259-1111.